‘Stalking can take many forms’ police warns as 300 arrests made in two years

‘Stalking can take many forms’ police warns as 300 arrests made in two years

MORE than 300 alleged stalkers have been arrested in Northern Ireland over the past two years, according to new figures.

The statistics have been released as part of National Stalking Awareness Week, which runs until April 26.

New legislation which criminalised stalking for the first time was introduced to the North in April 2022. Since then, the PSNI has arrested 312 alleged stalkers and charged 150 of them.

Since October 2023, PSNI officers have also made the first successful application for a Stalking Protection Order to safeguard victims and restrict alleged perpetrator’s behaviours.

By publishing their figures this week, the PSNI hopes to encourage more victims to come forward.

“We are asking the public to not ignore the red flags. If someone’s behaviour towards you is fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated, this is stalking,” Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher from the Service’s Public Protection Branch, said.

“I think many people when they hear the word ‘stalking’ will think of someone lurking in the shadows.

“Stalking can actually take many forms and can be online as well as in person and could be someone known to you or a complete stranger,” she explained.

“It is an insidious crime that takes over and destroys lives.”

The police force has highlighted stalking “red flags” and behaviours that people should look out for.

They include someone who “regularly follows someone and tracks their movements” or “repeatedly goes uninvited to their home or workplace” and those who “check someone’s internet use, email or other communications’.

“Statistics show that people will suffer up to 100 incidents before reporting to police,” Det Supt Fisher said.

“It often results in fear, trauma and a reduction in the victim’s quality of life, in some tragic cases it has resulted in murder.”

She added: “Stalking is a crime, which will not be tolerated or accepted within our communities.

“Thousands of our officers and staff have now been trained to recognise and respond to these crimes and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to bring offenders to justice.

“We are making weekly arrests and the Stalking Protection Orders are allowing our officers to take swift and decisive action, putting restrictions in place and enforcing breaches, treating them as criminal offences.”